Joining us from a place that’s warmer than Melbourne, Australia by just a few degrees (hey, those few degrees make all the difference to someone who doesn’t like the cold), is author Gina Wynn. Thank you, Gina, for taking the time to chat to me. Please sit down, get comfortable and let’s begin.
From a magical land of castles and kings (okay, it’s England), Gina doesn’t feel as old as she looks, owns three children who can’t be tamed, and writes in spare – usually stolen – time. She sometimes bakes—not always with quite the desired results, and has found the only solution to keeping the characters in her head quiet is to placate them with lots of other lovely books and worlds. She has been published by Decadent Publishing, who currently have two of her books, both of which are romance titles – “Her Dollmaker’s Desire” and “Her Undercover Christmas”.
What’s the name of the book you’re here to tell us about today?
Her Undercover Christmas
Tell us a bit about your book
Christmas is approaching and Phil is a girl out to get what she wants—the life of her choosing. She wants it all: a good looking man, his money, and the respect he commands. She just needs to throw her lot in with her criminal cousins for one day. Long enough to pull off a theft and come to the attention of the man she desires. But the job goes wrong.
Bastian is a man on the run—from a lifestyle he never chose and can’t seem to escape. One last favour before he disappears for good, and then he can start afresh somewhere new. But the favor balloons into more than he anticipated, and suddenly there are two of them on the run, and two of them snowed in and hiding out in his one last safe place.
Can a woman who thinks she knows where she belongs help a man who has never really belonged anywhere?
If there was a film or TV adaptation of your book, who would you like to see play your characters?
I never really imagine my characters as anyone. I struggle to give them faces. I struggle to give them hair or eye colours, even. The moment I do that, there are specific readers who don’t see themselves as that woman, or with that man. I even like to keep my covers as unspecific as possible to allow for some reader input. Who do they imagine in that space? I’d love to know, to be honest.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
In my book Her Dollmaker’s Desire, the names were important. I was writing to a challenge that used Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairytale ‘Dance, Dance, Doll of Mine’ and I deliberately gave two of my male characters Danish names. Other than that, I often go for names that I would have used for another sports team’s worth of children or just names that I like. I try to avoid names of people I know – I don’t want any friends thinking I’ve written their husband in as a romantic male lead.
Where do your ideas come from?
So many places. I’m a great believer in ‘What if…?’ I have the most ridiculous ideas at the most random times. Once, I was feeding my daughter in her bedroom in the middle of the night, and I heard a high pitched whine from outside. I began to consider the possibility it could be the beginning of an alien invasion. Or there was the time I was in the passenger seat of a car and we were driving into a city and I wondered what would happen if a large black dragon came swooping between the buildings. More recently, I followed one of my children into the bathroom and needed to tidy around – flushing the toilet and closing the lid, etc. Just as I pressed the flush and began to put the lid down, some bubbles came from the U-bend, and I wondered about there being something down there. My ideas almost always come when I can’t write anything down – when I’m elbow deep in washing up or pushing a buggy on the school run. One afternoon I walked passed a man who was walking his dog and we both said hello, or good afternoon or similar and I conjured him up a life as a murderer.
Have you always liked to write?
In primary school, one of my teachers used to give me extra time to write because I wrote such long stories. I was about six at the time, I think. I’ve always loved writing, and I was fairly advanced reader, so I’ve certainly always seen the two going hand in hand. I couldn’t imagine not reading, and I couldn’t imagine not writing (even though I do find it endlessly frustrating, too.)
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I don’t think I will ever make my living from writing. And if I wasn’t any good, but still enjoyed it, I think I’d probably do it anyway. I do plenty of things that I’m not very good at because I enjoy them. Hopefully I improve with practise, too.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
My official answer is no, absolutely not. I don’t read them at all. But I do. I don’t go looking for them, or checking for new ones, but if I happen to be in the neighbourhood, I might take a quick peek. I think I’m endlessly curious as to how my writing is received. Did I hit the right note? Do others ‘get’ me/my writing? I’d never respond to a bad review because everyone is entitled to their opinion, and not all books are for all people. I love reading, but I’m human. I don’t love everything I read so I don’t expect everyone to enjoy my books. That said, the bad reviews can still sting – even seeing a book shelved as ‘DNF’ on Goodreads can hurt because it will always make me wonder which part didn’t appeal to someone. MT: For those of you who don’t know what ‘DNF’ means, it’s ‘did not finish’. No author wants to see their books in that list!
What is your best marketing tip?
I have none – please send me some! If only so I can answer questions like this one.
How long does it usually take you to write the first draft of a book?
I’m a slow writer, and I also tend not to plot, so it can take me six months to write a first draft. Especially as I struggle to find the time in the first place and then fritter way too much of that time away on Facebook/surfing for inspiration and pictures to make memes.
What are you working on now?
Oddly, at the moment, I am working on a space opera as part of a challenge. I’m totally in unchartered waters for myself and it’s getting to the point where it’s touch and go whether I’ll meet the deadline, but I’m going to give it my best shot. Doubly so now that I’ve announced it here.
How has your environment or upbringing impacted your writing?
I tend to set things in England, so that much is down to my upbringing. That said, when I met my husband I lived for about eighteen months in Texas, so I should think a trip across the Atlantic wouldn’t be too great an impossibility in the future. I also have a fabulous CP who is American, and I would run everything through her filter, first.
Describe what your ideal writing space looks like.
Child free. 🙂
What’s an interesting fact about your book?
Her Undercover Christmas is actually a standalone sequel to Her Dollmaker’s Desire. I never planned to write it, but Bastian showed up in book one and started trying to scene-steal from the moment he arrived, so I decided he needed some page space of his own.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
I write Contemporary Romance and also Women’s Fiction. I often think the two genres blur and blend quite nicely, so I don’t feel the need to do a whole lot of balancing. Usually, I only end up in WF because I’ve strayed into an area that isn’t entirely acceptable in the traditional bounds or ‘rules’ or romance, anyway.
Where did your love of books come from?
My parents. My mum has always read – to the point of pretty much ignoring my siblings and me if she was right at the end of a good book. My parents’ books were in our house all of my life, and my dad used to buy me books and bring them home with him as treats after he’d spent the day at work. I still have those books now and my children read them. One of my bookshelves in my house is double stacked with my childhood books, and it’s one of my most treasured possessions.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Write sooner. Don’t dabble. Write on purpose.
Are your characters based on real people, are they imaginary or a combination of both?
Imaginary, but I wish most of them existed. I don’t even consciously take traits of people I know.
When you’re writing, do you listen to music or do you need silence?
It depends what I’m writing. I certainly associate writing with music – some songs get attached to my characters, or to certain books or scenes but I don’t always find it helpful to actually listen to the music as I write. Sometimes it can be a distraction. If I do want music, it has to be on a radio station without too much DJ input, or a playlist that I won’t want to keep pressing ‘skip’ on. The Pinterest boards for my books often include their playlist of songs, though.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Two things, really. Firstly, finding the time to write – achieving the balance between looking after my family, spending time with my children, and then the additional time to sit down with my characters. Secondly, I find reaching my readers really tricky. I have a good deal more to learn about marketing, that’s for sure.
Available formats: ebook.